Contest Entry For Most Unethical Column, Post Or Essay About The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck: Vanity Fair and W. Kamau Bell

Large, male, black...also irresponsible and dishonest.

Large, male, black…also irresponsible and dishonest.

My nominee for the contest: Vanity Fair’s “On Being a Black Male, Six Feet Four Inches Tall, in America in 2014” by comedian W. Kamau Bell.

Maybe Bell thinks the extra face-time on cable news this despicably deceitful essay gets him does enough for his career to justify adding to the false narrative about the Michael Brown shooting.  It isn’t. Nor is it worth the ignorance, hatred and fear he is sowing by intentionally misrepresenting what happened to Mike Brown as simply the natural consequence of his race, gender and size. Conduct had a lot to do with it too.

The article is really sinister, repeatedly comparing the author, who is about the same height as Brown was, to the slain teen, implying but never quite saying that Brown was killed simply because he was, in the author’s words, black, male, and large. Here’s a typical passage:

“I am afraid of the cops. Absolutely petrified of the cops. Now understand, I’ve never been arrested or held for questioning. I’ve never been told that I “fit the description.” But that doesn’t change a thing. I am afraid of cops the way that spiders are afraid of boots. You’re walking along, minding your own business, and SQUISH! You are dead.  Simply put, I am afraid of the cops because I am black. To raise the stakes even further, I am male. And to go all in on this pot of fear, I am six foot four, and weigh 250 pounds. Michael Brown, the unarmed Missouri 18-year-old shot dead by police this summer, was also six foot four. Depending on your perspective, I could be described as a “gentle giant,” the way that teachers described  Brown. Or I could be described as a “demon,” the way that Officer Darren Wilson described Michael Brown in his grand-jury testimony.”

He doesn’t exactly say that Brown was “walking along, minding his own business,” but that’s his intent, and he knows that’s what thousands have chosen to believe. He says that he, like Brown, could be described as a “gentle giant,’ but omits the detail that Brown was obviously not accurately described as “gentle.” If he were gentle, he would be alive. He also, being intentionally misleading, fails to mention that Wilson described Brown as looking like demon when the teen was attacking him.

Michael Brown wasn’t shot because he was large, black and male. He was shot because he attacked a police officer, twice, and because his size made that attack more legitimately threatening.  Because of his size and what he was doing with it, no reference to Brown’s color is necessary or relevant.

Bell’s perceptions of white reactions to a law-abiding, civil citizen because he happens to be a large black male  have added some useful perspective  to the national discussion of racial bias and police conduct, had he not chosen the path of using the topic to insinuate an innocent victim’s status for Michael Brown that does not comport with facts, slanders Darren Wilson, and fans the flames of ignorance and hate.

No responsible publication should publish something like this.


7 thoughts on “Contest Entry For Most Unethical Column, Post Or Essay About The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck: Vanity Fair and W. Kamau Bell

  1. Did you forget old buddy? Let me refresh your memory: Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kathy Alizadeh!?! You never answered my question of her incompetence or bias.

    • What does that have to do with Bell’s piece? (“Nothing,” by the way, is the answer)Alizadeh mistake is incompetence; it’s also a non-starter, since the reason for the shooting was Wilson’s fear of life. He knew that you couldn’t use deadly force on a fleeing suspect, even if the Asst. DA didn’t—I’m sure his training included that. This argument is so weak it is that rarity, the extreme left wing media story that even the left-biased mainstream media won’t touch. If the grand jury proceedings were a real trial, the introduction of that dead statute would be harmless error.

      It is useful to see who you’re reading though.

      • I agree it has nothing to do with Bell’s piece but I had asked for your opinion and you hadn’t addressed the question.
        Sad that you choose to believe only the narrative told by Wilson and you certainly don’t know what he knew for sure. But instructions to the Grand Jury is and was instrumental in their deliberation in deciding whether to issue an indictment. As was the aggressive questioning of witnesses by the prosecutors and similarly their passive acquiescence if not coaxing of Wilson’s well coached narrative. What exactly is the role of the prosecutors in the proceeding? Certainly not as apologists for the defense. An indictment would not be damning to Wilson but only for the case to be adjudicated properly and arrive at the truths.

        You haven’t a clue as to my sources or reading material.

        Your leanings are very evident in your posts.

        • 1.My leanings are to fact, ethics, logic, common sense and law, Rick. This isn’t an ideological issue if one is objective and doesn’t have an agenda. Not wanting to persecute a cop for doing his job and defending himself on the basis of color and because it is strategically convenient is called decency, and I’m not aware that any partisan philosophy has a patent on that.

          2. On the other hand, those, like you, determined to find a chargeable, convictable crime where the evidence says there was none obviously have an agenda and are driven by biases, because the position is indefensible on the merits. That position is either dishonest, an unethical ends justify the means blight, or a misunderstanding based on ignorance, emotion or stupidity. There are no other options. Tell me which is yours, and I’ll check the slip of paper I just wrote my guess on.

          3. I didn’t answer your question because I didn’t get around to it. That, and the fact that it’s a silly argument, and you were askking it in argument. If you had asked, does the ADA mistake invalidate the GJ’s decision in any way, I would have answered it quickly, because the answer is, “No.”

          4. I know what sources you read, because this bogus claim has only been floated at the desperate Left’s far borders, from those who realize that the anti-grand jury, pro-indictement arguments are built on air. The creator was the shameleess shill, Lawrence O’Donnell, who also warped reality and law in his Trayvon Martin coverage.

          5. Professor Jacobson effectively dismantled O’Donnell’s nonsense, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. He wrote…

          First, and most important, even if O’Donnell is correct that prosecutors misstated one justification for Wilson’s use of deadly force (arrest powers), these same prosecutors correctly stated an alternative and independent justification for that same use of force (self-defense).

          Thus, even if Wilson’s arrest powers were insufficient justification for his use of deadly force, his right of self-defense was more than sufficient justification for that use of deadly force. And even O’Donnell claims no error in that instruction to the Grand Jury.

          Second, the justification that O’Donnell claims was read to the jury in error is entirely irrelevant, as it applies only if the suspect is shot while fleeing arrest….

          The core fallacy in O’Donnell’s straw man argument is the very same defect shared by all straw man arguments. The position O’Donnell presents as being Wilson’s defense–that his use of deadly force was justified on the basis of his arrest powers–is simply irrelevant, because Wilson’s actual defense relied on a completely independent and sufficient justification.

          That his use of deadly force was justified as self-defense.

          At no point in Wilson’s testimony to the Grand Jury did he ever claim that he shot Brown because he was seeking to make an arrest of a fleeing suspect. At no point in his four hours of Grand Jury testimony was the issue of deadly force arrest powers ever raised.

          Not once.

          Wilson’s utterly consistent testimony through four hours before the Grand Jury, without legal counsel present and at his own initiative, was that his claimed justification for the use of lethal force against Brown was that of self-defense.

          As it happens, self-defense is governed not by §563.046, but by a completely different Missouri statute, §563.031. Use of force in defense of persons, the state’s self-defense statute.

          The Grand Jury was also, of course, instructed on §563.031, self-defense.

          Indeed, even Lawrence O’Donnell claims no error in either that self-defense statute’s reading to the Grand Jury or in that statute’s constitutionality.

          Bottom line: §563.046, Law enforcement officer’s use of force in making an arrest, the very heart of O’Donnell’s straw man argument is, as are all straw men, utter irrelevant to the issues at hand.

          Wilson did not need §563.046, arrest powers, did not rely upon it’s arrest power provisions, and indeed he never even mentioned them.

          All Wilson needed was §563.031, self-defense, and no error is claimed there. Period.

          Or, to put in logical terms, if an ADA had injected a completely imaginary law into the proceedings that said that Wilson’s shooting would be automatically justified if Brown was a zombie, even if the jury took her ar her word and the judge instructed on it, that would similarly have no effect on the result, because Wilson never claimed that Brown was a zombie, no evidence was examines suggesting that he was a zombie, and the fake and mistaken law thus couldn’t have any bearing on the Grand Jury’s results.

          6. This is all just desperation spinning, muddying the water to Gruber the poor rubes who are lost in the legal thickets. The race-hate hucksters have really shamed themselves on this one, and a trying anything to gain traction. They needn’t try so hard: the only people who buy their position made up their minds with out facts; they don’t need any fake facts to hold on to it. They believe what they want to, as apparently do you.

  2. Wow, your commentary on this article barely even scratches the surface (and that’s a criticism of Bell, not of you). He’s twenty-five cents short buying an ice cream sandwich, and because the clerk looks at him funny for a second he envisions a whole scenario in which he ends up dead? Sure, that could totally happen – IF convenience stores (in good neighborhoods, no less!) tended to trust their cash registers and merchandise to the sort of person whose first instinct is to scream at a customer who makes a simple and slight mistake in counting out money, IF Bell really would attempt to reason with such an obviously irrational person instead of setting the ice cream bar on the counter and hightailing it out of the place, IF convenince-store clerks were trained to handle apparently dishonest customers by pulling a gun, IF cops responded to reports of extremely petty shoplifting by tracking down a suspect and leaping out of the car with guns drawn, IF Bell truly didn’t have the common sense to be calm, cooperative, and forthright when confronted by the police, sure, maybe that could happen. But it didn’t happen. Bell doesn’t spell it out exactly, but most likely the clerk said, ‘Uh, sir, that was two-twenty five, please,’ and Bell said, ‘Oh gosh, I’m sorry,’ and he dug out another quarter and took his receipt and his ice cream and went home. I know that, as an unprepossessing white woman, there are probably a lot of differences between the world as I live in it and the world as a large black man lives in it, but in this case, at least, Bell’s transaction with the clerk played out EXACTLY the way it played out every time I’ve been in a similar situation. Only in his imagination did anything remotely untoward happen, and that underscores Bell’s paranoia, not the real challenges he faces as a physically imposing man of color.

  3. Bell is an entertainer, first and foremost. As one, he has a base support group whom he plays to specifically- just as politicians do. Bell is a black comic and his jokes and attitudes are geared toward a black audience primarily. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that a column written by him would take this bent in any publication, much less Vanity Fair- which itself caters to a far left readership. Whether Bell actually believes all he writes or says on the Ferguson matter is known but to him. If one’s intention, however, is to keep a lucrative career going, you say the right thing to the folks who put the money in your pocket.

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